The comfy sofa calling, tired after a hard day's work, struggling to resist episode 128 of season 14 of your favourite show... or just can't be bothered : there are 1001 (more or less) good reasons not to exercise. However, as the days go by, you'll feel your fitness dropping, you'll be short of breath, just going up the stairs will get you panting… It's a sign! A sign that maybe it's time to start exercising regularly again... But how do you find the motivation?
1. Set Yourself Achievable Goals
When you take up sport again after a long period of inactivity, the hardest thing is staying motivated in the long term.
People generally tend to aim too high, too soon. That gives them even further to fall when they don't achieve these goals. Obviously, it's useless wanting to run a marathon after you've been jogging for 15 days, or trying to bench press 100 kg when you only joined the gym 5 days ago. The key is gradual progression!
First of all, draw up a plan that's adapted to your current level, so that you don't lose your motivation. By progressing little by little, you'll keep the flame burning and you can move slowly towards your goal.
2. Make Time and Take Time to Exercise
Not got time? The perfect false excuse. Assess your situation (calmly) : how many hours a day do you spend on your smartphone, watching TV, or in front of your computer?
All this time could easily be devoted to sport. It's time to gradually change your habits. Optimise your days : start by allowing yourself 30 minutes in the morning before going to work, or in the evening before eating, to do the exercise that appeals to you the most. Walk or run around the block, work your abs, relax with a yoga or Pilates session… There are so many possibilities!
3. Record Your Progress
Daily, and after several weeks of exercise, you might feel like you're not progressing, and like all your effort is for nothing. That's the best way to lose your motivation and give up.
Don't let it happen! To stay motivated and see your progress, arm yourself with a little notebook : you can use it to write down everything you've achieved in each session. When you re-read these entries days or weeks later, you'll soon realise how far you've come. What could be more motivating than realising that just 3 months ago, you could only run for 20 minutes at a time, and now you can do 10 km without stopping?
4. Define Your Performance Indicators
One of the most important things when you want to stay motivated for sport is quantifying your progress. Love running? Try to improve your time for running 5 or 10 km.Drawn to strength training? Beat your record for push-ups or pull-ups. Tennis player at heart? Try playing a set against an opponent who seemed unbeatable a few months ago.
The closer you get to your goal, the more satisfied you'll feel.
5. Do Sports With Others
It's hard to have fun training alone in a corner. But there's an easy solution : motivate those around you to join your sporting journey!
Exercising with others will give you a boost, and it will be harder to cancel a session when you've agreed to meet a friend or colleague.
You can also try a team sport which will force you to commit. There are lots of possibilities:football, basketball, handball, volleyball… being part of a team also gives you team-mates who are counting on you to be there for training and matches, making it harder to find good excuses not to move.
6. Buy Some New Sport Equipment
Buying the latest sports gear (a new tennis racket, new shoes, new swimming kit…) often makes you keen to try out your purchase as soon as possible! Leave your equipment where you will see it : on your bed, in your lounge… this will make you want to use it as quickly as possible.
Don't forget your budget though : you don't want to end the month eating nothing but pasta (even if it is useful for sport).
7. Make a Promise to Someone Around you, Or To Yourself
What could be a bigger commitment than promising your partner, your friend, your colleague or a family member that this time you mean it, you're going to start exercising and stick with it? Why not draw up a contract on paper and sign it in blood (okay, we're exaggerating slightly, but you get the point) : you'll have no choice and this"moral pact" will mean you've given your word.
You can also make this promise to yourself : just verbalising your commitments will push you to achieve your stated goal.
8. Reward Yourself for Exercising
Sport isn't just about suffering or sacrifice. People often associate exercise with having to follow a strict diet and be careful all the time… but it all depends on your objectives!
In any case, it's always good to reward yourself for achieving your goals, for example with a good meal that you don't need to feel guilty about. You can also buy yourself a new pair of trainers (for example) to celebrate your progress.
Above all, exercise should be enjoyable.?
9. Break Up Your Training
When you go back to exercising, don't try to completely transform your habits. You shouldn't see sport as a constraint, but as a pleasure that will adapt gradually to your needs.
Initially, to shake up your routine gently, why not break up your training? If you're struggling to fit an hour of sport into your day, there's no reason not to do 2 x 30 minutes, to suit your timetable.
It's best to exercise regularly (3 or 4 times a week) in small doses, rather than doing one long, 2-hour session. Regularity is the key to long-term success.
10. Have Confidence In Yourself
Does that seem like a silly thing to say? In any case, it's useful to remember : the only person you can count on is yourself. If you're exercising, it's for you and nobody else. So be kind to yourself. Don't compare yourself to other people : everyone has their own path, their own level and their own story…
The good news is, progress is accessible to everyone, and results will follow. More good news : progress isn't even an obligation. Keeping things constant is already an achievement!
You are super motivated, ready to finally get back into sport (put on hold for various reasons, each as valid as the last, I do not doubt). But to stop this season's return to sport from being short lived, why not exchange a few tips? Goals: find the right rhythm, keep it up... in short, get motivated to do some sport!